He couldn’t have known. No one could have. Not really. Not if you’re just an average guy, who’s lived an average life, with average experiences. Life was supposed to be normal. And it had been. Sure, it hadn’t been perfect…nothing ever is. He just didn’t understand how it all could go so horribly wrong, so fast. He had never imagined that hungry eyes and a wounded smile could mean the death of him.
He was in shock, of course. There was a strange numbness in his body…if he still had one. He wasn’t sure. Time seemed to be suspended, and he didn’t know if he was awake or dreaming. He hoped for the latter. There were sounds he couldn’t identify. And a familiar smell. What was it?
Fear. It was creeping back in. If he could only remember. There was something important that he was supposed to remember. It was as if his mind was circling itself, unwilling to settle…to clarify.
Tingling. His face was tingling. The fog in his mental pathways was lifting. The smell was stronger, penetrating his nostrils, and in one swift stroke, delivered a rush of pounding dread deep in his chest.
With that thought, awareness surged back in. His body jerked, sending bolts of pain through his limbs. His eyes flew open, and immediately started watering. He still couldn’t see. With great effort he brought a hand to his face. It was slick. Blood. It had to be blood. His head felt heavy, like a cinder block. The pain was a rising crescendo. He realized he was lying on his side, with his other arm pinned beneath him. He tried to raise up, only to hit something hard.
The car. Oh God. He was in the car. And he was trapped.
Disjointed images flooded his head. Spaghetti on a Christmas card… A brown and beige chemise… A flickering porch light… A crossword puzzle… No, that’s not right… Wheel Of Fortune… Wheel Of Fortune on the television. Vanna White was turning letters. The chemise was on a plate. That thought bothered him. The Christmas card. Spaghetti. He had been eating spaghetti while Wheel Of Fortune was airing on the television. The card. It was larger than normal, with a winter scene on it’s front. It was in the plate of spaghetti.
HIs heart lurched, and his head started pounding. Valerie had thrown it on his plate of spaghetti that he’d been eating, while he’d had half an eye on Wheel Of Fortune. She had smiled. The card was from Sara, his ex girlfriend…
Oh God! Sara!! The chemise. Not brown…Not brown!!
He let out an anguished moan. They were just friends now! It wasn’t like that!! He’d tried to tell her it wasn’t like that! But it was too late. It was Sara’s chemise, a present from her mother. WHAT DID YOU DO TO SARA?!!
She’d had a gun… tucked into her waistband, when she picked up his half-eaten plate of spaghetti, crashing it against his head.
YOUUU’RE. MYYY. SOULMATE!!!
He had jumped up, grabbed his chair, and swung it at her, knocking her backward. He had run out the kitchen door then, tripping down the steps, and falling on the ground. He’d looked back as he was getting up, and saw her staggering toward the door frame, the flickering porch light distorting her features.
Scrambling to his feet, he’d lunged toward the driveway. Her father’s old Chevy Nova blocking his truck. He had jumped in it… keys in the floorboard. She was pounding on the window with the butt of the pistol as he screeched backward.
She started shooting as he pulled away.
The road had been too curvy. A blur as he had flipped down the embankment. She would be coming now.
Seat belt. His fingers fumbled to release the seat belt he’d managed to buckle as he was driving down the road…funny how the mind works on autopilot, at times. The roof of the car was the floor now. Between Valerie and the gas leak, he had to get out.
He’d HIT her. That BASTARD had hit her with a chair, and now he was LEAVING! She’d told him …Nobody leaves her… EVER.
She clamored upright, staggering to the door. He was running toward her car! Rage engulfed her and she charged forward, emitting a guttural scream…NOOOO!!! She grabbed at the door handle as he was backing out, beating the glass with her gun. The car jerked around and she lost her grip, then it peeled away. She raised her gun and started squeezing the trigger. Stupid Fool… Nobody takes what’s hers. She’d shown that girl, and she’d show him too! She’d warned him, and he hadn’t listened.
With an odd calm, she turned and walked back to the house. She couldn’t drive his truck, she’d never gotten a set of keys for it. Dumb mistake. She’d remember that next time. She had her daddy’s tractor though. She would find him. After she reloaded her gun.
He didn’t have much room, but he managed to wriggle toward the passenger side window. He needed to give his legs some room. God, they hurt so badly. It took all the effort he had to force them to move. He had no choice. Inch by inch, he worked his feet up to the driver side window, until he felt the hard heel of his boot hit glass.
She was focused now. She had a mission. Her thoughts and emotions locked back up in their cells, where they should be. She was softly singing to herself, riding along on the tractor… Hush little baby, don’t say a word… Her father had always sung it to her. She didn’t realize she was smiling.
The lights caught an anomaly in the scenery. The guardrail was broken. She eased the tractor as closely to the edge as possible, and shut it off. Climbing down, she peered over the side of the embankment. There was just enough moon to catch a gleam of metal. Triumph flooded her body.
He heard the sound of the tractor and started crawling faster.
It wasn’t easy getting down the side of the embankment. She slid part of the way, cutting her hands on the underbrush as she tried to slow her descent. The Nova was on it’s top. Mangled. Her daddy’s car! Ruined. This made her angry.
She pulled her gun out of her waistband again, and with a purposeful stride, walked up to the car. If he wasn’t dead, she wasn’t going to give him the chance to leave her again. This way, he would always be hers. They were soulmates. She had told him that.
She bent down, and tried to peer through the window. It was too dark. She couldn’t see a thing. Shifting the gun to her other hand, she flipped out her daddy’s Zippo and flicked the wheel.
The night exploded, slamming him into the creek bed.